Capital | Kathmandu
Population | 29,391,883 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 140,800 SQ KM
Official Language | Nepali
Holidays | Republic Day, 29 May; Democracy Day, 24 April
Currency | Rupee (NPR)
Time Zone | UTC +5.75
Best Time to Visit | October to November, for balmy days and crystal- clear visibility.
Connecting with the Culture | Being stuck in traffic amid bikes, cows, cars, beggars, pilgrims and vendors in Kathmandu. Taking on the high tides of Bhote Kosi for the ultimate white-water rafting adventure. Pondering the universe in Buddha’s tranquil birthplace, Lumbini. Being amused by Swayambhunath’s tribes of garrulous monkeys. Navigating a boat on Pokhara’s sublime lake, Phewa Tal. Riding an elephant on safari in Royal Chitwan National Park. Pushing your body to the limits on an extended trek, whether it’s in the all encompassing Langtang or once-in-a-lifetime Mt Everest region.
Read | Tenzing and the Sherpas of Everest by Judy and Tashi Tenzing, a compelling tale about Nepal’s national hero.
Listen | to Nepal: Ritual and Entertainment, all-encompassing Nepalese sounds from damai ritual music to panchai baja ensembles.
Watch | Darpan chhaya, an emotionally charged musical highlighting the Nepalese fascination with all things romantic, patriotic and theatrical.
Eat | dal bhat tarkari- it’s what you get if you combine lentil soup, rice and curried vegetables, and is the staple Nepalese diet.
Drink | a refreshing lassi (curd and water in any number of flavours) or chang, a hearty Himalayan brew made from barley.
In a Word | Namaste (hello/goodbye)
Characteristics | Maoist rebels; prayer flags; om chanting; chai tea; mandalas; shopping for Buddhas.
Surprises | Nepal’s most significant celebration, Dasain (October), involves the biggest animal sacrifice on the calendar; always remove your shoes before entering a Nepali home.
NEWS ABOUT NEPAL
Fifteen people killed in Nepal plane crash; 6 survive
(HN, 5/14/12) - 15 people have been killed in a plane crash in the Himalaya mountains. 6 other people onboard the aircraft which is operated by Agni Air, survived the impact tho were injured; including 2 Danish nationals. The Dornier plane came down during a landing attempt at Jomsom airport - a gateway for trekkers & religious pilgrims on their way to the Muktinath temple - in northern Nepal, about 200 kilometers NW of the capital Kathmandu. The plane was enroute from the city of Pokhara. Jomsom has a reputation as of 1of the world’s most dangerous airfields, perched on mountainous terrain more than 2 1/2 thousand meters above sea level. Nepal’s Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai issued a statement after the crash, expressing his condolences. (Read more at the Himalayan Times)